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Ensuring Transparency in Agriculture

13 March 2023

Agriculture is vital for  many developing countries, with the sector generating income, creating jobs, providing food security and enhancing health and well-being. Yet, in many countries it is under increased pressure from chronic and acute climate risks; at the same time, it is one of the world’s major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimating the agrifood sector accounts for 31 per cent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the World Bank, agriculture accounts for four per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP). In some developing countries, it makes up over 25 per cent of GDP, and employs up to 86 per cent of the labour force. But, intensifying climate change threatens to continue to cut crop yields. This is already having devastating effects on those that most rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

The sector is responsible for non-carbon dioxide emissions – specifically methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) – generated on farms. In addition, it is the source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions caused by the conversion of natural ecosystems – such as forests – to agricultural land use. FAO stated that, in 2019, about 44 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from the agrifood system came from within the farm gate, about 21 per cent from land use change, and about 35 per cent from agrifood supply chain processes.

ICAT has partnered with certain countries to tackle multiple fronts of climate action in the agricultural sector. From enhancing stakeholder relationships to establishing sectoral greenhouse gas measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) frameworks to enhancing adaptation-focused M&E systems, ICAT works to empower countries to face the challenges presented by a changing climate, and ensure their actions are based on solid data. 

Mapping land use in Eswatini

In the Southern African Kingdom of Eswatini, agriculture plays a crucial role in the livelihoods of civilians and in the country’s economy. However, the agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) sector also contributes almost half (48 per cent) of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The ICAT project in Eswatini focused on analyzing land use change. This was done by using archived satellite images to produce annual land use maps. It resulted in maps of land use change in Eswatini stretching from the 1990s to the present. The study found that all types of land use – except indigenous forest and grassland – was increasing. The increase was driven by many factors, including deforestation for agricultural and human settlement expansion, and large-scale forestry operations. The risk of conversion of indigenous land to other land uses was of particular concern.

This data is vital as it provides useful information for land resource management, and allows for more accurate estimation of greenhouse gas emissions in the AFOLU sector. In addition, it will improve the understanding of the complex interrelationships between terrestrial ecosystems and land use in Eswatini.

The ICAT project in Eswatini also resulted in the development of data collection templates to collect data from the energy and AFOLU sectors for compiling national greenhouse inventories. The templates were developed with relevant stakeholders, and will assist Eswatini in meeting its international reporting requirements.

In addition, the project developed an emissions factor database for the land use, land use change and forestry sectors; and made baseline estimates and projections of emissions. This will enhance Eswatini’s capacity to compile its greenhouse gas inventory, as well as enhancing the quality of data in the inventory itself.

ICAT’s implementing partner in Eswatini is the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute.

Effective stakeholder engagement in Nigeria

According to FAO, agriculture contributed about 22 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP in 2020. Additionally, FAO stated about 70 per cent of Nigerians engaged in agriculture at the subsistence level.

Nigeria is both highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Africa. Nigeria’s NDC states under a business as usual scenario, agricultural productivity could decrease by 25 per cent (and in some parts of the country by 50 per cent) by 2080. This in turn would negatively affect GDP by 4.5 per cent by 2050. On the other hand, in 2018, AFOLU accounted for 25 per cent of Nigeria’s emissions, and this number was expected to increase to 33 per cent by 2030 in a business as usual scenario.

To assist Nigeria to meet its NDC, the objective of the ICAT project was to implement sectoral MRV systems. It began with a needs and gap analysis. As a result of the analysis, the project focused on stakeholder identification, and the enhancement of related institutional arrangements.

As an output of the ICAT project, an MRV framework for the AFOLU sector was developed. An integral part was first identifying the organizations responsible for compiling and managing relevant data. Then, strong institutional arrangements were developed to ensure reliable and regularly updated data was provided. Finally, this data was used to inform national decision-makers and meet the Paris Agreement’s reporting requirements.

The ICAT project also developed similar MRV systems for other sectors, including oil and gas, and transport.

In Nigeria, ICAT’s implementing partner is Citepa (a member of the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute Consortium).

Data collection for adaptation in Kenya

Agriculture is vital to the economy of Kenya, and to the well-being of its people. According to FAO, it accounts for 65 per cent of export income, and supports around 80 per cent of the country’s population. 

While the sector is responsible for up to 40 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, it is also severely threatened by a changing climate. Increased temperatures and altered rainfall patterns cause drought, insect infestation and other adverse events. Combined, the effects of climate change on the agricultural sector have a devastating effect on Kenya’s socio-economic development.

The ICAT project in Kenya was developed under the overarching framework of the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy 2017-2026. The ICAT project first focused on assessing the capacity building needs of stakeholders, related to the monitoring of climate change adaptation activities in the agriculture sector.

It was conducted across five Kenyan counties. The results showed that although all counties were using similar reporting structures to the national government, counties had limited monitoring and evaluation expertise and lacked efficient frameworks to support robust reporting. With this knowledge, Kenya implemented a variety of capacity building actions across the agriculture sector that specifically addressed the gaps and needs identified in the assessment.

Next, the project developed a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework for the crop sub-sector. The M&E system enabled coordinated, efficient data collection, analysis and use. This information aids in the planning of resources, and – in the long term – is expected to contribute towards the transformation of the agricultural sector into a resilient, lower-emissions system.

UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre is ICAT’s implementing partner in Kenya.

Increasing rice yield in Fiji

In the South Pacific island nation of Fiji, agriculture is the highest source of CH4 and N2O. The emissions mostly come from rice cultivation, and enteric fermentation and manure management for livestock. 

The country relies heavily on both sub-sectors for food security and social upliftment. However, rice production has steadily declined, and today, Fiji imports over 80 per cent of its rice annually.

To meet its rice needs domestically, the Ministry of Agriculture issued the National Rice Development Strategy. To be sustainable, implementation of the strategy must aim to increase yield, while minimizing negative environmental effects, including minimizing the expected increase in CH4 and N2O from rice cultivation.

At the start of the ICAT project, the extent of emissions from livestock and rice cultivation was unknown. This created challenges in addressing the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions  while addressing socio-economic development. As a result, the ICAT project focused on developing a blueprint for an MRV framework for the agricultural sector, with a specific focus on livestock and rice production.

The MRV framework will assist Fiji in quantifying the greenhouse gas emissions, while also allowing amendments brought about by policy changes to be captured. It will also assist with the identification of related impact indicators. Finally, it will enhance Fiji’s NDC reporting because agriculture can now be included in the NDC, with an emission limitation target.

ICAT’s implementing partner in Fiji is the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute.

Reducing rice cultivation emissions in Viet Nam

Rice is also vital for socio-economic development in Viet Nam. Rice paddies make up about 75 per cent of the approximate 10 million hectares of agricultural land in the country. Agriculture is responsible for about 27 per cent of Viet Nam’s greenhouse gas emissions, particularly CH4 and N2O, with rice cultivation being responsible for most of that amount. 

From 2020 to 2030 – to meet its NDC targets – Viet Nam has implemented the system of rice intensification (SRI) combined with alternate wetting and drying (AWD) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This method has been found to greatly reduce methane emissions without offsetting increases in nitrous oxide emissions.

Viet Nam used ICAT’s agriculture and sustainable development assessment guides to assess the benefits of SRI and AWD. The project began with a needs and gap assessment in the agriculture sector, and an impact assessment of selected policies. This was followed by the development of institutional arrangements to ensure data linked both greenhouse gas emissions and sustainable development impacts.

This project will greatly assist Viet Nam in tracking its NDC implementation in the agricultural sector. Additional benefits were identified with the use of the ICAT guides, including the use of lower seed numbers, less fertilizer and pesticide use, and lower water volumes for irrigation.  Rice productivity increased thereby improving economic efficiency compared to the traditional rice production method. 

The ICAT implementing partner in Viet Nam is UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre.

Ensuring Transparency in Agriculture